For a short while at the back end of the eighties, Danes Artillery really looked like they might have it in them to be thrash metal contenders. They had released a pair of albums, 1985’s Fear of Tomorrow and its 1987 successor Terror Squad, which placed them just behind the yanks but pretty much ahead of everyone else in the thrash pecking order and then… well, they blew it.
So now in 2016 Artillery are just another one of the fleet of re-energised eighties bands looking for another piece of the pie; Well into their second reformation and on the back of three albums in the last six years, they are pretty much a ‘proper’ band again now, and there are certainly moments on PbP – usually when the Stutzer brothers (Michael and Morten) are heads down and riffing like bastards – when they really sound like they’ve never been away. Every song is pretty formulaic – riffs, riffs, riffs and more riffs – but thankfully the band refrain from the temptation of trying to prove how ‘relevant’ they are by resorting to harsh vocals or double kick overkill every two minutes.
The result is a tuneful, yet heavy, collection of old fashioned, chugging thrash metal with hooks, mighty soloing and just enough melody to keep the ears interested. Live by the Scythe is an absolute stormer of a track, a classic old school thrasher that hits ALL the right buttons, whilst the excellent Deity Machine eases back on the speed but still packs a mighty punch. Props are due (throughout, actually, but especially on this track) to vocalist Michael Bastholm Dahl, who has a pretty thankless task going up against the aural battering surrounding him but comes out with a very definite MVP award for his work on this track. Elsewhere the band strangely leave you until track ten before pulling out the album’s standout, the utterly crushing Path of the Atheist. Another lurching, mid-paced effort, it teeters on the edge of seeming disaster before hitting it’s stride and blossoming into a full-on power/thrash orgy of steaming riffs and vocal histrionics. Marvellous stuff.
Albums like this make me glad that bands feel they can have a second (or third) age, and certainly with Penalty… Artillery have proved that they ain’t just a bunch of old hacks looking for one last paycheck.